Investing in human capital and technology basis of urban development, shift towards smart green cities: Mohieldin

Ahram Online , Monday 27 Feb 2023

The success of urban development and the shift towards smart green cities requires investment in human capital and advanced technology, in addition to localising development and the good management of the wealth of data of smart cities, said Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN climate change high level champion for Egypt and UN special envoy on financing 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Egypt s new administrative capital
File Photo: The Central Business District (CBD) project in Egypt s new administrative capital. AFP


Mohieldin’s remarks came on Monday during his speech at the International Conference for Smart Cities 2023 (ICSC2023) that is being held in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research from 27 February to 1 March.

The ICSC2023 opening was attended by Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Ayman Ashour, Minister of Transport Kamel El-Wazir, President of Ain Shams University and President of the Conference Mahmoud El-Metini and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Ain Shams University and Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Conference Omar El-Husseini, in addition to a number of university presidents, academics, and entrepreneurs.

Mohieldin said that failure to mobilise the necessary investments in urban development compromises the ability of cities and communities to progress, explaining that the success of urban development requires the availability of governance and participation, empowering local authorities through applying the principle of development localisation, and combining the advantages of centralisation and decentralisation, along with the availability of finance and combining its private and public sources.

He added that the challenges posed by the permacrisis situation in the whole world must be hedged by investing in human capital, which is the basis for building and sustaining smart cities, investing in infrastructure and linking it to advanced technology, in addition to investing in the resilience of new societies to different crises.

Mohieldin stressed the need for new cities to be smart and adhere to environmental and climate standards, pointing to the existence of financing gaps suffered by Arab countries to create environmentally friendly cities. This requires investment in decarbonisation, sustainable transport, recycling, waste management, and other areas with environmental impact.

He highlighted the importance of transforming old cities into smart green cities while preserving their civilisational character, with the need to deal with the crisis of slums and residential communities stuck between rural communities and advanced urban cities.

Mohieldin said that more than half of the world's population currently lives in urban areas, and this percentage is expected to rise to 70 percent by 2050, adding that urban cities account for 80 percent of global GDP. Meanwhile, these cities contribute 70 percent of harmful emissions and are the most affected by the negative phenomena of climate change. This emphasises the need for cities to adhere to environmental and climate standards in order to withstand climate change.

The climate champion stated that COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh came up with a number of important initiatives that contribute effectively to the successful transition towards smart green cities, such as the Low Carbon Transport Initiative for Urban Sustainability (Lotus), the Sustainable Cities initiative, the African Carbon Markets Initiative, which will strengthen the capabilities of African countries to finance the transition towards smart green cities.

He highlighted the launch of Sharm El-Sheikh’s Adaptation Agenda by Egypt's presidency of COP27 and climate champions that will help in achieving the resilience of societies and cities to climate change, in addition to Egypt's historical success in launching the Loss and Damage Fund through its presidency of the conference in order to enhance ways to deal with the losses suffered by cities as a result of climate change.

Mohieldin praised the National Initiative for Green Smart Projects launched by the Egyptian government as a model for localising development, explaining that the initiative witnessed the active participation of universities, civil society and other local actors, in addition to various social groups such as women, youth, startups and non-profit initiatives. The winning projects were presented at the climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh.

He stressed that regional cooperation is important for urban development, which reflects the importance of the initiative of the Five Regional Roundtables launched by the Egyptian presidency of the COP27 in cooperation with the regional economic committees of the United Nations and the climate champions team.

 The initiative, he added, resulted in about 450 investable projects, including specialised projects in areas that serve the transition towards smart green cities.


Short link: